The employment information needs of people with intellectual disabilities
Three dimensions of Nick Moore’s (2002) model of social information needs: agents, mechanisms and form, were used to analyse the employment information needs of people with intellectual disabilities in New Zealand. Through semi-structured interviews with people with intellectual disabilities, care givers, disability professionals and supported employment providers it was found that people with intellectual disabilities have great difficulty looking for employment information and that information alone is not enough to encourage people with intellectual disabilities into pursuing employment opportunities. Previous experiences and expectations played a strong role in discouraging information seeking. Many participants were nervous about beginning to look for employment information as they had very little previous experience in doing so, and held reservations about their chances of being successful. Printed information is not very relevant and tailored or personalised information is the most effective, preferably delivered verbally, in person. Trust and authority were important aspects of information for all of the participants. Structural barriers around minimum wage exemptions and employment subsidies were mentioned as significant by the employers and supported employment agencies. A lack of promotion, due to resource constraints of these services was also sighted as a major barrier and employers believed there was a lack of awareness of the extent of the support available in workplaces. The confidence derived from achieving educational and vocational qualifications is often denied to people with intellectual disabilities through educational structures and the ways in which knowledge is tested and demonstrated. This study has shown this to be a major factor influencing the employment information seeking process of people with intellectual disabilities.